The Sunday Weekly poem looks back a few days to the full moon on 12th November. Without outdoor light polution, the full moon is particular noticable where we live in rural Ireland. Even the waning moon last night cast a luminous glow down our uncurtained corridor. It’s unavoidable when it is cloudless. And if it is cloudness in an Irish November then it is cold.
Indigenous peoples had names for each full moon. Some work with the climate in Ireland, other’s less so. Sturgeon is not part of our culture. But Grain works for what is happening in our August Irish climate. While there may be no beavers in Ireland,we certainly have known frost some mornings this week here in Corrogue.
Somewhere it is snowing already and some mornings we could characterise it as a Frosty Moon. However, we have had a day of literal deluge at the full moon this week. Others have experienced flooding as the high tide went higher and broke records. Another of the November full moon’s names seemed appropriate for this week’s poem – Hibernation Moon.
Hibernation Moon That day it poured enough to warrant both paddle and ark-sized boat. All domestic livestock gathered, hunkered in, lying close to their humans. Sleet spattered windowpanes. Thunder folderolled. Knuckledusting cold had to be taken on the chin if you opened wide the door of your winter cabin.
We are all become bears in our day dark dens, listening to snores, counting out the number of naps (though who drowsily keeps score when to sleep is to invite dreams to shake you awake moonstruck in pre-dawn gloom?) Only the cold, cold moon penetrates the seamless dark of our hibernation’s nest, the still, stark truth of our dream-filled designs.
The Sunday Weekly poem arrives after a remarkably hectic week given the time of the year. I am not even sure why or how to describe such a procession of pleasant happenings as hectic. Perhaps I still have an extended post-birthday giddiness from my mock Mojito last Sunday. Yet, here we are descending into the dark pit of the year and I am feeling as frisky as Tigger. I love the alternating low sky with heavy rain, the astonishing sunsets and brief minutes of brilliant sunshine that are like the embers of a low fire.
No wonder the ancestors designated this the time of year to share memories and stories. It is averred that the Milesians, one of the early invaders of the island that we know as Ireland, said that ‘poetry is all memory.’ In an oral tradition that would be in a literal sense, but I am sure there are more metaphysical and metaphorical meanings to tease from that rubric.
In the twilight our group lit 350 candles in jam jars and placed them around the paths in the labyrinth to light our meditative walk around after sunset. John also lit a fire in the seating area in centre of the labyrinth for comfort. It was a night when you needed to wrap up well and wear a hat and gloves.
Surrender to amazement. Be found in the lantern lit labyrinth surrounded by velvet darkness. Above,a cloud scudded sky is blanched by a pregnant moon. Remember. Once again, you may find who you truly are. Bewilderment may find you a miracle so fervently beseeched it was forgotten. You may breach the maze in your mind in the night's blooming darkness, its welcome silence, in the scrying for your future, reading the embers in the need fire.
This is a re-blog while I am hard at the revision process. And many of the poems that have appeared in second or third draft here are getting remade and reshaped, some with subtle tinkering and some with complete repurposing. And some off cuts are getting a new life of their own in another poem. Even this poem has been re-jigged. The August 12th version is slightly different if you are interested in that sort thing – process – and want to take a look.
I especially wanted to re-blog this particular poem as a tribute to my Friday morning textile art teacher, Morag Donald, and the women who I am getting to know in my community as we needle felt, weave, and collaborate in creating art work, relaxation and connection. We meet in Dowra Courthouse from 10am until noon. We have tea, biscuits and a talking stick. Come on down!
This was originally written #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge. It was Day12 and the prompt was ‘Cruel Summer.’ I did write a tanka(ish) five liner on the theme. But what really was itching to flow from my pen came when the phrase “the Republic of Crochet” popped into my head. Our niece, an ardent crochet practitioner, had been here over the weekend pet sitting. But we had also had conversations about a community art projects and some of her own envisioning that would use crochet as its medium.
Textile art rocks!
The Republic of Crochet For Hannah Daisy
Flowerchild conceived long after The Summer of Love, your flower power blankets us with 'Chain Stitch One,Chain Two, Chain Three,' linking us softly in wool.
Everyone loves a flower. Who can resist them? Petal confetti love bombs us. But in crochet. Single stitches mend us one at a time -
the lonely, the odd, the angry for lack of some love - with a flower, or a blanket, some soft wooly love.
Samhain, or Halloween, ’tis the spooky season, of ghosties and ghoulies and unexplained stuff that goes bump in the night. So it makes sense for this Sunday’s Weekly Poem to take inspiration from that wavey pavey line that divides our world from whatever is next. (If you believe in that kind of thing.) There is plenty of debate about that. If you watch The Good Place on Netflix you might play around with ideas that the otherworld is a kind of Medium Place where souls are stuck. As my young friend with a psychology Ph.D. observed, ‘being stuck’ is the flag that says you need therapy. If souls or spirits or ghosts are stuck, it would seem that even the dead can be in need of therapy!
Yesterday was the Day of the Dead, aka All Souls Day. It’s also my birthday, so the ancestors were much on mind even as I was savouring a pumpkin cheesecake made for my birthday tea. Halloween, or Samhain, was a three day feast back in the day when the pagan Celtic kind of people lived on this island. When Patrick Christianised Ireland the old customs would not completely die. So now we have the three day feast of Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Both traditions acknowledge, to a greater or lesser extent, that that the line between the world of the living and the dead is particularly permeable at this time of year. Some cultures celebrate the beloved dead, like the great Day of the Dead festivals in Latin America. In our more northern climes we are a bit more nervous of perhaps too close an encounter with the skeletons in the family closets. In Ireland the fairies were said to be particular active and might take a fancy to steal your child. Hence, dressing up and pretending to be dead, or something particularly unattractive for fairy snatchers. (NB: Fairies, we apologise for this libel on your character. This is a public service announcement.)
But the dressing up also allows us, whatever age, to explore being someone else, to live out some unlived life – the accountant masquerading as a pirate, the assertive woman fainting into one of Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Women in Peril,’ the sexually shy woman vamping it as Morgan le Fay. You can be an angel or a devil. You can flirt with The Good Place, the Bad Place and even the The Medium Place for what it is on The Other Side of that permeable curtain. (If you believe in that kind of thing…which I guess a lot of us do, because it can’t all just be a Hallmark plot to sell more cards.)
‘Tis the season after all.
All hail the saints! All hail the souls who missed the mark but were beloved still.
We do the best we can with the arrows of our intention aimed at impossible targets, that fail to launch or fall wide of the bulls-eye.
Some saints tried to do their best, slipped, missed, but eventually did better. They improved their eye.
All hail the saints! All hail the souls who miss the mark, but vow to do better with their hands and eyes.
Our beloved dead did the best they could even when it should have been better.
But then, we who live are not always so well understood.
Happy Halloween. A lucky dip into the archive re-visits a Halloween Party given at the local open prison for a group of mentally handicapped young adults. It was a stunningly joyful event, staged in the coffee shop that is open to the public, but also open to inmates. Joy can be found in the saddest places sometimes.
I am minded today of the Arundrati Roy quote to seek joy in the saddestplaces. We need to be reminded of joy and a prison qualifies as a sad place, but my husband and I and about fifty souls witnessed it yesterday in our local low security prison. I feel it warrants memorialising in my poetry journal. As backstory for you to understand the context of how it came about, I need to explain that they run a coffee shop that is open to the public, as well as having a car wash and polytunnels where you can buy plants. This is a bank holiday weekend in Ireland so there were a lot of visitors about the campus on a Sunday. The barristas in the coffee shop had been chatting to some of the regulars who work with a group of disabled young adults locally. They cooked up the…
For reasons I cannot quite fathom I have been feeling really tired this past week. Maybe the juggling of three and more projects is catching up with me. I have a list of things I need to attend to today, but I kept slapping the ‘Snooze’ on the alarm. I felt completely flat and out of inspiration for poetry practice. So I was lazily looking at my email, Facebook and finally Twitter. I generally just check in once daily there, but as soon as I opened it there was a post in the feed with a poetry prompt from @UrbanWordNYC…”write a poem addressing how death is the original form of ghosting.” So okay. I have my assignment for the Poetry Daily! Serendipity saves the day! I may have more personal experience of ghosts than social media ghosting, but I can work the metaphor…
Our clocks went back to universal time at 2am this morning. I woke up just after 6am in the chilly twilight and felt immeasurably better.I burrowed back under the heft of the duvet and extra blanket. But even with the lie in, I was up early penning the Sunday Weekly poem. This is the time of year to make like the bear or small furry animals who disappear down tunnels into their dens. To parlay a Mary Oliver quotation differently… my “soft animal body” loves this time of year. Which does coincide with my birthday at the week’s end, so perhaps not quite so surprising. I revel in this dark part of the year, called Samhain in Ireland, and unlike many folk, feel quite energised by it. I am digging into the darkness.
We are not only setting the clocks back and diving into the darkness of Samhain, as we call Halloween and the month of November here in Ireland. (We even get a bank holiday for Halloween! It’s the ancient Celtic New Year. Yet another example of how we ‘do the double’ with two celebrations for New Year.) . It is also a New Moon in Scorpio. Those who live in environments with a lot of artificial light will never fully appreciate just how dark a dark moon can be at the darkest part of the year. You can understand why they thought the ancestors and other spirits roamed the countryside. It feels like the point just before the bang went off and the cosmos was born.
The early hours also had me looking at the etymological roots of the English words burrow (since I was so enjoying my snuggle in) and barrow. The latter can be a handcart and essential gardening tool in one sense. But the sense I was seeking was its life as an ancient burial mound. Long, long ago we put the ancestors to bed in what was not unlike an animal’s den. My favourite ancient monument on the Cavan Burren is called the Cairn Dolmen. First they buried their beloveds under a pile of stones. Later, the neolithic people plopped a dolmen on top of the pile of stones. Now, time is making it subside into the mound. It begins to look like a barrow.
My own personal name for this is The Fairy Cairn.
I will only be giving you one poem this Sunday. Which is not to say that I have not been scribbling other drafts. But they were really only fragments.
I did have my first meeting with my mentor/ editor this week, beginning the revision process that will eventuate in a solo collection of poetry that began life in the 365 consecutive poem a day project that ended in September 2019. What you see in this blog is basically a second draft, occasionally a third tweaking. I am now beginning the slash and burn process. A friend of a friend calls this the ‘Kill Your Babies’ stage. My wise editor reframed this as…”think of it as separating conjoined Siamese twins and putting them in their own cots.”
This is how one unconjoined Siamese twin breaths in this new micropoem.
Her reading glasses folded lie on the bedside cabinet with the paperback, it's bookmark three-quarters the way through forever.
My etymological survey this morning ended up at a website on Paracelsus who had some very esoteric terminology used by theosophists. But it became my word play sandbox for the Weekly Poem. The title, Yliaster, is defined as the primordial matter out of which the universe has been formed in the beginning of time.
Time is very much on my mind this morning.
First there was brine so much it sank into the earth. It fell from the sky. Those salty tears became the scaffolding of the cosmos.
Next came brimstone, the noxious engine, the truth that no light comes without a spark and a parp keeps things moving.
Last, quicksilver, scattershot, inspired, all too, too self-aware, a realisation, a dashing away - flighty, fickle, unfair.